Twitter verified a Nazi yesterday.
You know those little blue checkmarks some people have next to their Twitter handles? That basically “verifies” that yes, this person is at least semi-famous. Or is someone of “public interest.”
A few years ago, when the Verified symbol first showed up, only celebrities had them. Movie stars had them. Rock stars had them. Professional athletes had them. Big-time authors had them.
Basically if you had a little blue checkmark next to your name, it meant you were someone famous.
Then, less famous people started getting them. Journalists of national publications got them. Radio DJs got them. Local TV anchors got them.
And soon after that, not-really-famous-but-you’ve-maybe-kind-of-heard-of-them people started getting them. Scott Monty (@ScottMonty) got one, partly because he’s been a big name in social media for years, partly because he’s a well-known Sherlock Holmes podcaster, but mostly because he was in the public eye as Ford’s social media manager for years. Other local journalists got them, novel authors, and small business owners.
Even people who have over 100,000 followers (that they most likely got through cheating) but haven’t even published 10,000 tweets are Verified. (I know, because one of them followed me yesterday.)
I, however, am not.
I’ve struggled with whether I even want the little blue checkmark. On the one hand, it seems rather needy and high school-ish, like jumping on the latest fashion trends because all the cool kids are wearing them. On the other hand, I never did what the so-called “cool kids” did in high school because I thought they were morons.
My good friend and book co-author Jason Falls (@JasonFalls) is not Verified. He thinks it’s stupid. And I mostly agree. It just seems so needy and insecure to try to fit in with the cool kids, because the cool kids are by and large insufferable asshats.
Still, it would be nice to have. There’s still a small part of me that wants that little blue checkmark, because it would be so validating. Like what I did was important. And in the public interest.
But I don’t have it.
Oh, it’s not for lack of trying. I applied for it a few weeks ago. I cited the four books I co-authored — including Branding Yourself (which has a whole chapter on Twitter), No Bullshit Social Media (which mentions Twitter constantly, and was a groundbreaking social media book in 2011), The Owned Media Doctrine, and of course, Twitter Marketing for Dummies (which I “ghost co-authored” in 2009).
I also mentioned my newspaper humor column, which I have written every week for the last 21+ years.
And I mentioned that I was the 2016 Jack Kerouac House writer-in-residence.
But it wasn’t good enough. I received a rejection email that didn’t actually explain why I didn’t get it. That’s fine. I can deal with that. Maybe my books aren’t famous enough. Or they were all written more than four years ago (although the third edition of Branding Yourself dropped this month). Or that nearly all the 10 Indiana newspapers that publish my column are weeklies.
Or maybe it’s because I’m not a white supremacist.
Because Twitter verified Jason Kessler, the self-professed white supremacist who organized the Charlottesville white supremacist rally that left one protestor dead.
Twitter just verified Jason Kessler, the creator of the white supremacist Charlottesville rally. https://t.co/sH7MTEHYUB
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) November 9, 2017
They verified him, and Twitter went nuts and started tweeting to Twitter’s CEO @Jack Dorsey in protest.
Hi @jack yesterday I tweeted: “Instead of character increase—Twitter should Nazi decrease. Ppl don’t quit Twitter b/c it’s too short—they quit b/c it has too many Nazis.”
So Today—you verified a Nazi. This harms society & destroys your own product.
Please do better. https://t.co/34IKP7ljEX
— Qasim Rashid, Esq. (@MuslimIQ) November 9, 2017
Am I bitter that I wasn’t verified? No. Am I angry? No. Am I annoyed that a Nazi was verified before I was?
Sure, a little bit.
I write books that help people find jobs. I write books that help businesses be more successful. I write newspaper columns that make people laugh. I don’t try to oppress people, denigrate minority groups, organize violent rallies, or joke about the death of a protestor and call her “a fat, disgusting Communist.”
I mean, if you were to ask people who should be verified I would hope “four-time non-fiction book author” would rank somewhere above “white supremacist Nazi dirtbag.”
Doesn’t that make sense? That someone who contributes to the betterment of society would be slightly more worthy of verification than someone who calls for the wholesale genocide of an entire race of people?
I mean, I know I’m old-fashioned, but I figured helping people succeed was more noble than joking about their deaths.
At the very least, Twitter, don’t verify this guy. Remove the verification. I don’t have to have it. In fact, I don’t think I want it anymore. If you’ve granted it to something you find on the bottom of your shoe, I don’t want it.
But for God’s sake, don’t give it to someone who promotes hate and genocide. I thought you were better than that.